As a parent, guardian, or even an older sibling, we all tend to have a loved one we feel particularly protective of and who we want to see be happy.
Others around us may not always agree with us about how far we’ll go to support them, agreed the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor HopefulChocolatepie was surprised when he saw that his transgender daughter’s birthday cake, presented by her grandmother, had her deadname on it.
His daughter was so upset and clearly feeling rejected that the Original Poster (OP) walked out of the birthday party with her.
He asked the sub:
“AITA for walking out of my daughter’s birthday party because the cake had her deadname on it?”
The OP’s daughter recently celebrated her seventeenth birthday.
“I (46 Male) am a single dad to my daughter Alexis (17).”
“Alexis is transgender and came out two years ago. It’s been a pretty big adjustment, especially for the older folks, particularly my grandmother, who is in her 90s and has mild dementia.”
“Recently, my daughter had her seventeenth birthday.”
“She already had a fun day out with friends planned, but my sister (who lives with my grandma and is her main carer) suggested we have a family birthday party at Grandma’s house as well, and Alexis thought it was a great idea.”
Then something shocking happened at the birthday party.
“By all accounts, the party went great, until it was time for cake.”
“Now, baking has always been my grandma’s passion, and even in her old age, she still bakes and decorates cakes all on her own. She usually makes them for family gatherings and takes a lot of pride in her work.”
“My sister brought out the cake, and the frosting read, ‘Happy Birthday, [Deadname]!'”
“As soon as she saw the cake, Alexis started crying.”
“I quickly gathered our things and we left in a hurry.”
“We had box cake and ice cream while we watched her favorite movie, and I eventually got her feeling better.”
The OP’s sister lashed out at him for leaving.
“While that was happening, my phone blew up with texts from my sister, but I put her on mute while I comforted Alexis.”
“After Alexis went to her room and started gaming, I looked over the texts from my sister.”
“They started fairly normal (Is she okay* Will you guys be coming back? Etc) and then devolved into accusing my daughter of being ungrateful and unstable.”
“She said that Alexis should’ve put on a smile because Grandma worked so hard on the cake, and it isn’t my Grandma’s fault she’s old, etc.”
“I texted her back and said that Alexis didn’t want to spend any more time with family today and that that was a horrible thing to say about her.”
“My sister simply responded with, ‘K.'”
“Most of my relatives are on my side, but I’ve been getting the silent treatment from my sister and grandma.”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some found the sister’s explanation to be a garbage excuse.
“NTA. Let me get this straight. Your sister wants you to believe that this was wholly the doing of the 90-year-old with dementia? As the caretaker of a 90-year-old with dementia, she felt solo-baking was cool?”
“Well, happy birthday to you, too, OP, because clearly your sister thinks you were born yesterday.”
“Not to mention, it would have been so easy to say something like, ‘So beautiful… I think you misspelled the name, so let’s just remove it…’ Smear the name off and say, ‘Oh, look at the time, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ALEXIS!'”
“It’s not hard to be supportive.” – pottersquash
“Your sister gave you such a bulls**t excuse. Even if they did magically trust her to bake solely on her own, it is not even vaguely difficult to wipe away the frosting with the deadname and say, ‘Sorry, Grandma. She changed her name, remember?’ or ‘It’s actually Alexis’s birthday today. Let’s rewrite it, she’ll never notice.'”
“Nahhh. Instead, they used her dementia as an excuse to harm a 17-year-old.” – Kcinic
“They CHOSE not to correct the name or say anything. They also chose to let a 90-year-old woman with dementia make a cake for a specific person.”
“How’d she remember what name to use? Why didn’t anyone correct her? Because they didn’t want to.” – sunflower_jpeg
“Is my family weird for not putting names on birthday cakes? We just write ‘HAPPY BIRTHDAY!’ or just decorate them festively. Makes me wonder if OP’s family normally does or doesn’t. It would not be the first time that I’ve seen sh*tty family members finding an excuse to deploy the deadname.” – TishMiAmor
“I have a history of f**king up writing on cakes. My brain and hands get misaligned, and I’ll miss a letter or something. It’s super easy to fix without anyone being the wiser, especially if you notice it pretty quickly.”
“(And sometimes you miss it, and then the cake says, Happy Bi r thday, Kid,’ with a tiny ‘r’ inserted above, and your ex-husband jokes about it every year for the next decade.)” – scatteringashes
Others sympathized with Alexis and knew how important her name was to her.
“For the birthday girl, the name means a LOT. If it had said ‘Alexis,’ it would have meant the world to her because it means her family is on her side and support her. But that’s not what she got. She got a distinct reminder of what her family really thinks of her.”
“Yes, not having the name would have stopped this from happening. But having the name would have been a gift all on its own, and I think that’s what really matters here. Instead, she got kicked in the heart.” – mordorxvx
“Choosing a new name is huge for trans people. It’s a moment of empowerment, joy, and hope. A transformational and undeniably emotional moment, one we want desperately for our loved ones to respect, accept, and hopefully, celebrate with us.”
“There are a thousand social, existential, hormonal, psychological, and logistic complications that come along with being trans and non-binary. It’s a lot to manage. It takes a lot of self-reflection.”
“It can be painful, We lose people. We’re stalked, bullied, harassed, dehumanized, sexualized, mocked, and are apparently also the most recent target of the GOP, which means our lives just got elevated from ‘living in a state of precarity’ to ‘oh cool our government is calling for our genocide,’ and that’s on top of the rape, violence, and general marginalization of trans folks.”
“A name is simple. It’s a sound people make to get your attention or refer to you. It’s just a sound we agree on together. They change all the time for a bunch of reasons.”
“For trans and non-binary people, a name is Everything. It’s the future we chose. It’s the hope we chose. It’s the version of ourselves we have searched for and finally found. It’s the person we have made a conscious decision after a lengthy, difficult, complex, and personal process of self-reflection, exploration, and liberation.”
“It means we know who are are, we are claiming that person, and we intend to live up to their name, our name, our REAL name.”
“To have that mocked, rejected, or refused is a special kind of heartbreak. Because that, at its core, isn’t just a rejection of our name, but of our personhood.” – PyrrhicPyre
“I’m assuming Grandma is also NTA because if she was a transphobic jerk, her granddaughter probably wouldn’t love her or have wanted to spend the day with her.”
“I haven’t seen anyone going after Grandma, but if they are, I think people should know just how difficult changing names and pronouns are for people with certain neurological disorders. My grandma has dementia, and I know any name change wouldn’t stick with her.”
“My mom can’t get pronouns right since her most recent stroke (though she never deadnames, bless her heart.) Somehow, pronouns are just like… stuck at the time when her stroke happened.”
“So friends who transitioned before her stroke don’t get misgendered, just ones after. And all dogs are boys because our dog at the time of the stroke was a boy, and all cats are girls for the same reason. And my cis boyfriend gets she/her pronouns since, at the time of her stroke, I was dating a woman.”
“She knows this is a problem and is very apologetic when corrected. This is all to say: this very much reads as a deliberate oversight on the part of the aunt. She let it happen, probably on purpose, and then tried to use her elderly mother as a get-out-of-big*t-jail-free card.” – Sangy101
“I’ve seen someone with dementia break cigarettes and throw them out the window and light their pants leg on fire when they just wanted to smoke.”
“Nearly pour an entire pot of hot coffee in their lap when he wanted a cup of coffee, and try to smoke the empty coffee pot like a big bong. It sounds a lot funnier than it is in real life.”
“If grandma has mild dementia it’s probably not even safe for her to cook by herself at all, much less take that many steps all by herself without careful supervision. And more supervision than you would give a child ‘helping’ you.”
“Follow the cake recipe. Bake cake. Let the cake cool. Make frosting. Frost cake layers if there’s more than a single layer, and then write on it (which isn’t easy to do, and takes practice, shaky hands and delicate wrists, and fingers with a touch of arthritis would have a hard time doing that).”
“I have a hard time believing someone with dementia would be able to do all that on their own without supervision, to begin with.”
“Even with mild dementia, you would have to supervise to make sure the right ingredients and correct measurements were used just to make the cake batter, butter/flour or spray the pan(s), make sure the temp is right and nobody forgets the cake in the oven, checks it for being fully baked without getting burned, and lets them cool.”
“Grandma didn’t bake that cake by herself if she baked it at all.”
“They used Grandma to push an agenda, thinking nobody would say anything at all.”
“Source: I’m a cook, I’ve done pastry, taken care of a family member with dementia, and had to intercede for older neighbors with dementia as well, as well as having some a-hole family members.” – SubstantialPressure3
After receiving feedback, the OP gave a brief update.
“Thanks so much for y’all’s support. I’ll definitely be reaching out to my grandma soon to get her side of the story.”
“And to all those being transphobic to my daughter, f**k off. She’s my girl, and I love her and support her no matter what, end of story.”
The subReddit completely understood why the OP and his daughter wanted to leave the party with transphobic comments coming few and far between.
The one point many made, however, was that the grandmother likely was not the problem here, given her medical condition. More than likely, she was used to cover up a bias in the family, which only serves to make the situation so much worse.